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Divided by race
Date:7/28/2011

EVANSTON, Ill. --- In 2005, the Food and Drug Administration approved a drug called BiDil as a therapy for heart failure specifically for African-American patients, claiming in a press release that this was a step toward personalized medicine.

In "Fatal Invention: How Science, Politics and Big Business Re-create Race in the Twenty-First Century" (The New Press, 2011), Dorothy Roberts, the Kirkland & Ellis Professor at Northwestern University School of Law, points to the marketing of the drug as an egregious example of recent scientific efforts to resuscitate race as a biological category rather than a political grouping.

"The FDA lent credence to the idea that race is a biological category written in our genes, though there was no evidence in the clinical trial that BiDil worked differently in people with different genotypes or that it worked differently in African-Americans than it worked in people of other races," Roberts said.

The book focuses on ways in which some scientists and biotech companies are trying to provide an updated version of race as a biological classification by using cutting-edge genomic science and technology, including gene clustering studies, biomedical research on the genetic causes of health disparities, race-specific medicine and ancestry testing.

In centuries past, scientists created typologies dividing the human species into biological races, but more than a decade ago, the Human Genome Project proved that human beings are not naturally divided by race.

In her new book, Roberts examines the contemporary consequences of a new racial science that claims there are racial differences at the molecular level at a time when race appears less significant in a supposedly "post-racial" society, bringing science, law, commerce and race ideologies under one canopy.

"What I want most is for readers to understand that race is an invented political system -- not a natural biological div
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Contact: Hilary Hurd Anyaso
h-anyaso@northwestern.edu
847-491-4887
Northwestern University
Source:Eurekalert

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